Sunday, May 31st, 2009
Belle & Sebastian cover Elvis Costello & The Attractions
Frank YangIt’s almost laughable how Belle & Sebastian spent the first part of its career shrouded in mystery and eschewing live performance because as anyone who’s ever seen the Scots onstage can attest, they are no wallflowers. Both Stuart Murdoch and Stevie Jackson are fine frontmen, charismatic in their own ways and perfect foils for one another and they’re a very tight and polished musical group, prone to spontaneous covers that, for how off the cuff they seem to be, generally come off much better than they should.
I recall their 2003 Toronto show at Massey Hall where during a break between songs, an audience member called out a request for the Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back” and rather than shrug it off, they actually started to jam it out and before you knew it, they were covering it and doing it pretty dam well. I can imagine that’s how this Elvis Costello cover came about, considering how initially hesitant they are going into it but then pulling it off with goofy gusto.
With B&S on indefinite hiatus, Stuart Murdoch will be releasing the album from his God Help The Girl project on June 23 and while B&S fans will no doubt find much to enjoy in it, it doesn’t quite manage to fill that Belle & Sebastian-shaped hole in this indie kid’s soul. Elvis Costello, on the other hand, never really goes away even when he says he’s going away. He releases his second album in as many years this week with Secret, Profane & Sugarcane and will play Massey Hall on August 28. I will bet that if someone calls out a request for, “I Want You Back”, Declan will ignore it.
I miss Belle & Sebastian.
MP3: Belle & Sebastian – “Oliver’s Army”
Video: Elvis Costello & The Attractions – “Oliver’s Army”